Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (5-14-12): RTOSes or Linux? The debate continues - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (5-14-12): RTOSes or Linux? The debate continues

Embedded Newsletter for 05-14-2012

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May 14, 2012

Tech Focus: RTOSes or Linux? The debate continues


Linux Wins – Or Does It?

Comparing the real time scheduling policies of the Linux kernel and an RTOS

A decision-tree approach to picking the right embedded multicore software architecture

Real-time Android: real possibility, really really hard to do – or just plain impossible?

Editor's Note

Bernard Cole Bernard Cole
Site Editor

In embedded systems design, most developers will agree that there is seldom a single right way to do things. The specific requirements of an application drive design choices – what works for one application might not work for another.

But occasionally cases of absolutism do occur, most recently at an RTECC conference where Jim Ready of Linux provider Montavista claimed that there is not much need for RTOSes anymore. Jack Ganssle has taken exception to this and in “Linux wins – or does it? ” he delineates the applications and hardware platforms where Linux is not appropriate and concludes: “The truth is that in the world of embedded systems, applications range from electric toothbrushes and greeting cards to massive weapon systems. Linux is well-suited for some of these; a traditional RTOS is the right choice for others. We engineers benefit from having both in our toolbox.

Recent Embedded.com design articles, white papers, and webinars illustrate that Linux has improved considerably in its ability to handle real-time deterministic operations. This has only made the task of picking the right OS from the embedded toolbox that much harder. Both RTOSes and Linux are constantly improving, requiring constant re-evaluation based on conditions on the ground.

My Editor's Top Picks of the articles for this issue of the Embedded.com Tech Focus that may help you make the right choices are:

A decision-tree approach to picking embedded multicore software ,” by Freescale's Robert Oshana. While he focuses on the use of decision trees for picking the right multicore software architecture based on choices such as Linux, Real-time Linux or an RTOS , this is a technique that should be useful in making a variety of embedded design decisions.

In “Comparing the real time scheduling policies of Linux and an RTOS, ” Le Trung Thang provides an analysis (with code examples) of the similarities and differences between RTOSes and various flavors of standard and real-time Linux..

In “Getting real (time) about embedded GNU/Linux,” Robert Berger goes through the various resources available on line for picking a real-time Linux alternative if you want to combine the flexibility of Linux with varying degrees of deterministic operation.

Design How-Tos

A decision-tree approach to picking the right embedded multicore software architecture

Freescale's Robert Oshana walks the embedded software developer through a multicore “decision tree” for selecting software components best suited to the app, such as RTOS, Linux, RT-Linux, or none.

Comparing the real time scheduling policies of the Linux kernel and an RTOS

In this article Le Trung Thang takes a hard look at the real time scheduling policies of the Linux standard kernel, the Linux Real-time kernel and of RTOSes, provides a detailed analysis (with code examples) of ways to take advantage of the differences and similarities.

Multicore networking in Linux user space with no performance overhead

In this Product How-To Design article, the Freescale authors discuss multi-core network SoCs and how to leverage them efficiently for data path processing, the limitations of current software programming models, and how to use the VortiQa zero-overhead user space software framework in designs based on the QorIQ processor family.

Open Embedded: An alternative way to build embedded Linux distributions

Nick Lethaby and Denys Dmytriyenko of Texas Instruments provide an overview of the key elements of the Open Embedded Linux (OE) build environment and show how to use them to build and customize Linux distributions.

Migrating from proprietary to Linux (Open) development platforms

Linux specialist Rajaram Regupathy provides some tips on making the transition from a design based on a proprietary RTOS to one that makes use of the Linux (Open) standard.

Implementing a new real-time scheduling policy for Linux: Part 1

A three-part series on how to implement a new scheduling policy for Linux 2.6.24 kernel version, based on the well known real-time earliest deadline first (EDF) scheduling algorithm. Part 1: SCHED CASIO Linux Scheduler

Getting real (time) about embedded GNU/Linux

Here is the latest on how embedded developers can have their Linux operating system and real time deterministic operation too, through the use of various resources now available on line from the embedded systems design and Linux/open source communities.

Linux and Security: Mission Impossible?

I'm personally a big fan of Linux. But searching the Web about its use in high criticality app indicates that while the open source OS is used widely in many mainstream embedded, mobile and desktop apps, it is not the best choice where a high degree of security is necessary.

Debugging the Linux kernel with JTAG

The JTAG debugger is very useful for debugging low-level Linux kernel on ARM. The author shows you the peculiarities and benefits of Linux-kernel debugging using JTAG.

Bare metal embedded software development with & without an RTOS

In this Product How-To article, TI's Joseph Coombs describes the problems developers have in meeting the strict real-time requirements of embedded systems and how use of the company's StarterWare set of lightweight OS-independent libraries and utilities will help in designs based on TI's ARM, DSP and ARM/DSP processors.

Lower the overhead in RTOS scheduling

Research shows that preemption-threshold scheduling helps to mitigate the deadline-vs.-overhead tradeoff.

Reduce RTOS latency in interrupt-intensive apps

Here is a way to bypass the RTOS in latency-sensitive interrupt situations. The use of a hybrid interrupt handling technique may reduce or eliminate the latency introduced by the RTOS in many embedded designs

It takes two to tango: Simplifying Linux/WinCE real-time applications development using 8- and 32-bit low-cost microcontrollers

Seeing the terms 'Linux/WinCE' in the same sentence as '8-bit probably comes as a surprise to most people. As the title, 'It takes two to tango' suggests, 8-bit microcontroller units (MCUs) can actually make Linux and WinCE software application development easier.

2012 Embedded Market Survey webinar

UBM Electronics' 17th annual survey of embedded systems designers worldwide shows trends in software and hardware usage. The 2012 Embedded Market Survey also looks at languages, productivity, and the challenges design teams rank as most important. A webinar on Friday April 20 will examine the results from over 1,700 respondents from across the embedded industry, the dataset enables a deep analysis to track key changes in this important electronics industry segment. There will also be the opportunity to ask questions online. To register click here .


eCROS platform now supports Xilinx Zynq-7000 EPP

eSOL's eCROS real-time OS-based integrated software platform now supports the Xilinx Zynq-7000 Extensible Processing Platform (EPP).

Design West: IAR Embedded Workbench now includes Express Logic's ThreadX-Lite

Express Logic, Inc.'s ThreadX Lite RTOS, new, single-user license targeting the ARM Cortex-M series microcontrollers, is now exclusively offered in IAR Systems' Embedded Workbench.

Design West: Express Logic's ThreadX RTOS supports both symmetric and asymmetric multiprocessing for multicores

Express Logic, Inc., has announced that the ThreadX RTOS now is available for multicore systems in both Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) or Asymmetric Multiprocessing (AMP) modes.

TenAsys releases distributed RTOS

TenAsys Corporation's INtime Distributed RTOS enables programmers to write easily-scalable applications that run without modification on different system configurations

Wind River Linux 4 platform supports newly released kernel 2.6.34+

Wind River Linux 4 is Wind River's fourth-generation commercial embedded Linux platform. Linux 4 is based on the recently released Linux 2.6.34+ kernel, cross-compiling toolchains GCC 4.4, EGLIBC 2.11, and GDB 7. The new platform supports ARM, Intel, MIPS, and Power architectures.

LynuxWorks' LynxOS-178 RTOS receives RSC approval from FAA

LynuxWorks, Inc. announced it has received its second approval from the Federal Aviation Administration for reusable software components (RSC) for the LynxOS-178 product family.

MontaVista's new Linux challenges RTOSes

With faster response times and a smaller memory footprint, MontaVista Software says its new commercial Linux release can meet the needs of most real-time embedded systems.


Linux Wins – Or Does It?

RTOSes are dying, Linux is in. Or is it?

Real-time Android: real possibility, really really hard to do – or just plain impossible?

Embedded developers are taking a close look at using the Linux-based Android mobile device platform in real-time deterministic apps. But is it realistic? If so, what will it take? Or is this just another tantalizing but impractical dream?

RTOS dissatisfaction

RTOS vendors have never offered better or more powerful products, but a growing chorus of developers seems less than thrilled.

Wither Linux?

Linux and Android are the future. Or are they?

Determinism & predictably reliable systems

What makes you think your system will be responsive all of the time?

Who wins when Cortex-M adds RTOS?

Richard Barry of FreeRTOS.org examines who the winners and losers will be in ARM's decision to add an RTOS to its Cortex-M hardware abstraction layer, through the release of CMSIS 3 (Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard 3).

Sponsored White Papers

The Shortest Path to Embedded Linux Deployment

Choosing the Right Linux Flavors for Your Project

Debugging Techniques for Linux Device Drivers

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